This weekend was quite an adventure. Since the ski season is quite short in Japan, we decided to go one more time before it was completely over. Three other ALTs spent the night at my apartment on Friday night, as it is the closest apartment to Nagano. Saturday morning we left and made the 5-hour drive to the Monkey Park. This is a famous park that wild monkeys roam around in, you can’t touch them, but they can get awfully close to you. We took our time looking at the hundreds of monkeys, commenting on how cute it would be to take one home. We took a bus to and from the park (otherwise a 50 minute hike and we had one injured ALT). On the way down from the Monkey Park, our bus driver decided to taunt the monkeys by feeding them pieces of apples. It was really cute to watch until the monkeys started walking/crawling towards us with their mouths open, making some weird noise, begging for food. It was pretty scary, but we survived.
After the Monkey Park, we headed to Hakuba Village, where all of the awesome ski resorts are. But before we got there, we stopped at a liquor store and bought some local microbrews. At $4.50 a bottle, it was a little on the high end, but having a blonde, IPA, Pale Ale, and Porter beer was totally worth it. When people ask what I miss the most about home I usually say: family, friends, food, and beer. I like to think of myself as a beer connoisseur and the standard beers in Japan are very bland. Just think of every kind of beer being exactly the same Bud Light taste, no other kinds. Yes, it gets very boring.
Welcome to the Monkey Onsen Park
Dinner: vegetable tempura (so good!), miso soup, tofu, green tea
We made it to our hostel, which was pretty nice as it just opened last August, the four of us got a 6 person dorm with our own bathroom, which was pretty sweet. We went to a local sushi restaurant for dinner and I had some amazing vegetable tempura and tofu. Sunday morning we woke up bright and early to catch the opening of the ski hill. We went to Hakuba Goryu / Hakuba 47 ski resorts (with one ticket you can go to both places). This is the same resort I went to before. Although four of us made the trip, one was sidelined with a bum knee and took a lighter approach of onsen-ing it. The three of us spent the morning at Hakuba 47, had some Subway for lunch (turkey sandwich, oh how I love you). Then we went to spend some time on the Goryu side and that is when every lift and run closed except for one. Talk about a bummer. The wind had picked up and I don’t know why, but they closed everything except the gondola. In Oregon, with that kind of wind, no one would really be concerned. The other reason we think they closed the rest of the resort was because it was a Sunday and a majority of the people had gotten off the mountain.
After a good day of snowboarding, we headed home. First, we had to stop of kaitenzushi or conveyor belt sushi. As usual, it was delicious. The way home was uneventful, but we made it to my apartment at 9:30, and everyone else was home at 11:30. On this trip I got my first experience on driving on the Japanese toll roads (express highways). It was pretty awesome, you can drive as fast as you want and there are hardly ever police on the roads (yes, it is awesome).
So there you have it, our road trip to see monkeys and the last snowboarding weekend of the year. It was great fun and I can’t wait to do it again next winter. However, now I’m nursing a lovely cold/allergies and I probably sound and look like a monkey…Hopefully it clears up before Wednesday, which is JHS graduation (I need to look my best)!
Try to count how many monkeys are in the picture!